Who Issues Town Planning Permits?
At PSCA, we are often asked which authorities are responsible for issuing town planning permits. The simple answer is that the relevant local Council (also known as Local Government) issues planning permits for use and development projects that are located within their municipality. It is important to understand that this is different to building permits, which can be issued by licensed private building surveyors.
Councils issue planning permits under the direction of State and Local requirements contained within their own individual local planning scheme. At times other authorities will provide information to the Council where it is in their jurisdiction to do so, such as VicRoads in the case of developments on main roads or highways, or the Country Fire Authority in high-risk bushfire areas. In some circumstances, these authorities may dictate specific requirements to the Council, or in some cases object entirely to a permit being issued. So while the Council is responsible for issuing the planning permit, their decision can also be informed or ultimately determined by external authorities.
In addition to the above, in some circumstances the Council’s decision (permit or notice of refusal) may be appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). In these cases, it is the responsibility of VCAT to review the Council’s decision, and determine whether or not the decision was appropriate. If VCAT disagrees with the Council’s decision it will issue a specific order to the Council to produce an amended decision. It is then the responsibility of the Council to act on the VCAT order and issue a new permit or notice of refusal.
In exceptionally rare circumstances, the Victorian Minister for Planning may intervene in and determine a planning permit application. Such circumstances are generally related to very large projects and are unlikely to occur in common residential development projects.